Written by Carrie Stevens, editorial intern
Buttery toast, rich olive oil, fluffy soufflés—have you started drooling yet? Surprisingly, we were on our mats when yoga instructor Chrissy Carter brought these images to mind, making us dream about our next meal. The ex-Wall Streeter-turned-yogi commonly references food during her classes to help students visualize and execute poses, which we experienced firsthand to celebrate the launch of her new Gaiam DVD Beginning Yoga. Ready to say om…nom nom?
How did you first discover yoga?
I danced in college and the professors would use yoga to warm us up. I became more serious about it when I graduated and worked on Wall Street. I had a crazy-intense job, so I would go and do yoga as a way to relax and check in with myself. It was a demanding career and I felt like I needed some me time; yoga really gave me that.
Why do you think it’s important for people, especially women, to practice yoga?
I think yoga puts us back in our bodies. It gives us an opportunity to let go of all the expectations that we have and all of the things that we have to be to everybody. It also allows us to have a place where we can practice self-acceptance, and for women, that’s always a challenge. We’re always measuring ourselves us against some sort of outside expectation. And to come on your mat and be like, “I’m going to do what I can do today, and that’s OK.” Beyond the physical benefits of having those strong, supple muscles, I think the connection emotionally and mentally is so much more powerful.
How would you describe your teaching style?
I would say it is really clear. I am passionate about giving people the tools that they need to be their own teacher. I want to give everybody a backstage pass into how to do these poses effectively and safely for their particular body. I use humor so that people don’t take themselves too seriously, but I also take the practice really seriously because I think it’s a perfect place for people to apply it to the bigger picture: how do I react to not being able to do this pose, and how is that similar to how I react when things fall apart in my life?
Written by editorial intern, Jennifer Fiorentino
For some of us, we watch Dancing with the Stars and think “I would need serious professional help to be able to dance that.” DWTS pro Louis van Amstel has developed a dance fitness program, LaBlast, that lets even complete newbies learn the steps to the Cha Cha, Quickstep, the Merengue and more routines while working up a sweat. Dancing queen wannabes can find a class near them taught by instructors trained in van Amstel’s program, or get stepping in their own living rooms with the LaBlast DVD series. We caught up with the pro to learn more about his program and his fitness motivation.
You are a three-time world dance champion, Emmy-nominated choreographer and spent seven seasons on DWTS. Did you ever dream of such success?
It’s funny, after fulfilling my dream of becoming a world champion the first time, I realized that dreams are more like goals. If you work hard you can really achieve anything you want. Repeating the world champion title two more times only confirmed that sheer hard work can make dreams come true. After moving to the United States from Europe I felt I was in the right country to make even bigger dreams come true. Dancing with the Stars, my dance fitness program LaBlast, My active wear clothing line LVA are all dreams that became reality, because of dedication, goal setting, and a lot of intuition. Dreams can come true if you follow your gut! I can’t believe I’m on dream number five. DREAM, PEOPLE! Set a goal and follow your heart!
What does dancing mean to you?
Dance has meant so many different things to me in the course of my career. At first all dance meant to me was nothing, because my (grand)parents wanted me to dance. It wasn’t my choice. After doing my first competition a while later it light up a fire in me which made me see dance as a sport. It became about winning. Because of my growing up with alcohol abuse from my parents and their unhappy marriage, I used dance as therapy. I could express my feelings through dance, but didn’t have to share my personal feelings with anyone. Thank god for dance. If it weren’t for dance I probably would have ended up becoming an addict myself. Instead I chose dance to excel in, so you can imagine what dance has meant to me and always will!
Why did you decide to turn your LaBlast workout into a DVD series?
Being part of Dancing With The Stars from the beginning I realized that the celebrities get hooked on dancing. Dance becomes a lifestyle, because it makes you feel so good on many levels. It’s addicting! The feeling of achieving the steps, the different cultures and characters of each dance make it such a thrill. Also, it makes women feel feminine and contributes to confidence and inner sexuality. Not to mention LaBlast gets people in the best shape of their lives, because dance uses the entire body, physically, mentally, and emotionally. After my season with Kelly Osbourne I decided it was time to create the LaBlast DVDs, so people at home can experience what all the celebs on DWTS go through each season. Anyone can dance and should experience the joy of dance. The benefits are endless!
How many calories can we expect to burn in one 30-minute session?
Depending on how involved you get people can burn between 300 and 600 calories. The more you get involved emotionally into LaBlast, the more calories you’ll burn. Dance is all about getting into the meat and potatoes, haha, not just doing the steps correctly. Don’t be afraid to go crazy and goof off, because it’ll burn you more calories. Read more
Written by Jennifer Fiorentino, editorial intern
When Jane Fonda released her debut exercise video in 1982, Jane Fonda’s Workout, it became its own genre, leading her to create 20 additional fitness videos and selling over 17 million copies combined, more than any other workout series. Now at 74, she’s looking great and feeling better than ever with her latest DVD Jane Fonda’s AM/PM Yoga for Beginners, which breaks up yoga into a rejuvenating morning session and an unwinding evening one.
We got the chance to chat with Fonda, who is one of our fitness icons about her latest workout routine and how she’s staying in shape these days.
What made you decide to create this new routine?
I started my new brand Prime Time three years ago aimed it at the baby boomer generation and older. I realized that there was a hole the series and yoga was that missing link.
Describe this new workout in one sentence.
It is yoga that has been marinating in Pilates. But it’s not pure yoga; I didn’t want it to be intimidating. Read more
September’s Top DVD: Yoga Is: A Transformational Journey
Best for: Someone who wants to go past downward dogs and learn how to best channel your inner calmness through yoga.
Why it’s a star: Normally we give you the top DVD’s to sweat to, but to celebrate National Yoga Month; this flick is our top pick for discovering your true self through yoga. After losing her mother to a battle with cancer, journalist Suzanne Bryant went on a journey to the West to interview prominent yoga teachers and learn about the different practices to help herself and others to find peace with their mind and lives. “Your mind is like a muscle,” Bryant says. “I had been practicing yoga since 1991 and became a teacher in 2000, but it wasn’t until I started a daily practice that I felt that mental shift of being able to control my mind. Now whenever I feel anxious I’m able to close my eyes and instantly calm down. It is a powerful thing.”
Sprinkled in with interviews of yogis from all over the world are a few celebrity appearances. Christy Turlington-Burns, who wrote Living Yoga: Create a Life Practice as well as Russell Simmons share how yoga has changed their lives. “Christy Turlington-Burns is someone who is able to be in both worlds and can channel peace in everyday life, which is incredibly important,” says Bryant. “Not many people knew Russell Simmons practiced yoga, so I thought he would be able to motivate people that are his audience to find a way to use this path to be a better person and contribute to the world. He told me that he used to think his anxiety drove him, but after practicing yoga and quieting his mind he realizes how much more productive he can be.” For anyone going through a tough time or just wanting to learn how to chill out after a stressful day, this film is a front row seat to the best yoga teachers in the world telling you how.
Where to get it: amazon.com, $14.99
I had never realized how little I engage my core throughout the day or my lack of a proper posture—or should I say “neutral spine”—until I had the privilege of trying The Dailey Method with founder, Jill Dailey. Slouching, be gone!
With a background in dance and Pilates, alongside her knowledge in injury prevention and rehabilitation, Jill has evolved her training from the West Coast’s first barre class back in 2000 to a franchise with 46 studios (and counting)! The full body workout focuses on kinesiology and alignment principles while combining ballet barre work with yoga, core training and orthopedic exercises.
Each micro-bend and extension slims, sculpts and aligns every muscle group. These moves, while constantly pulling in your abdominal wall for stability and elongating the spine, are designed to deliver the toned results we are all aiming for.
The flow and innovative uses of bands, balls, light weights and, of course, the ballet barre took slight movements to a whole new burning level. I am famous for always eyeing the clock or considering my mental to-do list during workouts but did not have the opportunity to think about anything but my body in this class. I was too busy focusing on dropping my hips and engaging my abs! Plus, regular choreography changes and updated playlists keep the challenging hour fresh every time.
Read on to try two of Jill’s favorite moves. Read more
Written by Lisa Turner, editorial intern
August’s Top Workout DVD: Essentrics Class of 2012
Best for: Anyone who wants to get long and lean muscles and just can’t seem to find their yoga sweet spot.
Why it’s a star: Essentrics is a workout that combines ballet-inspired moves with toning exercises to challenge your body in a unique way. It’s named for the eccentric movement in exercise where you are lengthening and strengthening each muscle. Co-creator and Essentrics expert Sahra Esmonde-White says these movements help slenderize your figure while building strength–what more could you ask for?
Though skeptical at first, wondering how difficult stretching and sashaying could really be. I popped in the DVD on a weeknight after work thinking it’d be a calming workout, but it definitely wasn’t easy. Sahra isolates every muscle, focusing on stretching it out and toning it up. If you like the challenge of power yoga or Pilates, Essentrics is a fun way to mix it up and test your body in new ways. The next morning, my abs were sore, along with my buns and my triceps. Talk about a full-body workout!
You don’t have to don a tutu, but the workout does require a certain degree of grace and coordination. Sometimes I’d be balancing on one leg while reaching forward, getting in touch with my inner ballerina, when all of a sudden I’d lose my footing and snap back to reality. That’s the best part about working out at home–no judgment! Plus, the only equipment you need is a chair. No dumbbells, no stability ball, just your body weight. A mat is helpful if you’ve got hard floors during the ab workout, but a towel would work in a pinch.
Where to get it: essentrics.com, $19.95
May’s Top Workout DVD: Jillian Michaels Kickbox FastFix
Best for: Intermediate exercisers looking to sweat away stress
Why it’s a star: Having one of those days when you always seem to switch lanes in traffic as the other lane starts to move? Or perhaps you forgot your sports bra at home when you were planning a lunchtime gym run? Punch out your frustrations with kick-butt trainer Jillian Michaels, who leads you through three quick yet effective martial arts workouts that focus on upper-body, lower-body and abs, respectively. Jump from jab-cross-kick combos to lunge kicks to sit-ups to keep your heart rate high while sculpting from head to toe. As you know, Michaels doesn’t tolerate excuses, and there really aren’t any during this workout—you can even complete one while dinner is cooking!
Where to get it: $13, amazon.com
Find more new, calorie-burning kickboxing picks on page 22 of our June issue—on newsstands May 15!
We don’t know about you, but we’ve found ourselves tuning into this season’s Dancing With the Stars and wishing we could move as well as the pros, and even some of the contestants. We got the scoop from Kym Johnson about how she keeps dancing fun for her and her partners, her stay-healthy tips and how you can learn to salsa and shimmy while staying fit.
We’re sad to see you and Jaleel White go last week. Who do you think are the top competitors this season? Who do you enjoy watching?
I think Katherine and Mark are ones to watch and William and Cheryl are really good. There are a lot of great dancers this season, so it’s exciting.
How do you keep dancing fun, especially when you’re practicing for hours a day?
It’s always fun for me; it’s difficult to learn a dance in just four days but it’s fun. For the show, we dance for seven to eight hours a day. It’s hard on the body. We use a lot of Epsom salts for baths after.
There’s also the mental aspect of the competition, right?
You have to be a mentor and be motivational. These celebrities are out of their comfort zone. Everyone is different and you need to figure out how to get them to learn in their own way. When I see that my partner is getting frustrated, I usually do a five-minute break. I always give positive feedback first and then give a critique to help them learn.
Besides dancing, how do you stay in such great shape?
When the show’s on, all the practicing is more than enough of a workout. When the show’s not on, I do Pilates and Xtend Barre and just like to get outdoors in general.
April’s Top Workout DVD: Canyon Ranch Strong & Sculpted
Best for: Beginner to intermediate exercisers who are looking for a good strength and stretch session.
Why it’s a star: No fancy dance skills or high-impact cardio moves are necessary during this DVD to challenge your muscles and get a great sweat going! During two of the three 20-minute segments, you’ll perform fluid multi-muscle group exercises with a pair of medium-weight dumbbells (like an alternating side lunge with a lateral raise). The payoff: You’ll keep your heart rate elevated to burn calories and add strength in a short amount of time. For the last segment, grab a mat for a relaxing yoga cooldown.
Where to get it: $17, acacialifestyle.com
More from FITNESS: Having trouble finding a workout DVD you love? Create your own with this free FITNESS tool!
Whether you’re looking to discuss the latest nutrition-related news, find the latest supermarket snacks that won’t eat up your daily calorie budget or need a family-friendly recipe, Lisa from Snack Girl has you covered. She’s not afraid to cover the good, bad and ugly in the food world and shares plenty of smart snacking advice (we love her recent round-up of chocolate choices with Valentine’s Day coming up)! Keep reading to learn more about Lisa’s fitness goals and what she’s snacking on now.
My favorite way to work out: I like fitness DVDs because I am a mother of two small children and I’m always pressed for time. My favorites include Jillian Michaels DVDs and the New York City Ballet Workout. I have about seven different discs and I do just 15 to 20 minutes of one of them per day. Someday, I will get my gym membership back and do my favorite exercise, which is swimming.
On my fit life list: I want to become a better cross country skier. We have trails behind our house and I am always falling over. I would love to hike parts of the Appalachian trail and someday climb up to Machu Picchu.
I’m happiest when I’m: Reading my children a story at the end of the day. It is such a sweet time and I get to admire them at their quietest.
My biggest indulgence: Sitting in front of my fireplace (we have a wood stove) and knitting. If I get to sit there for 15 minutes without interruption, it is SO luxurious. Of course, the dishes and laundry are staring at me but I ignore them to have this precious moment of peace.
My fave fit snack: Since it is winter, I am really into root vegetables. I recently discovered parsnips and I love them. This recipe is super easy to make and tastes delicious.
Honey Mustard Parsnips
- 2 pounds parsnips
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 4 teaspoons honey
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon high-quality mustard
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F and place rack in the upper third. Scrub parsnips in cold water. Do not peel. Cut into 1-inch chunks and place parsnips on rimmed baking sheet.
- Mix together vinegar, honey, and olive oil in a small bowl. Pour over parsnips and mix with the liquid to coat. Add salt and pepper.
- Roast until tender, about 15 minutes. Put in a bowl, and toss with mustard. Taste and adjust seasonings. Enjoy!
Nutrition information per serving: 157 calories, 3.2 g fat, 31.8 g carbohydrates, 2.3 g protein, 7.7 g fiber, 100 mg sodium, 4 Weight Watchers PointsPlus